An Encyclopaedia of Myself

Bee Wilson writes:

Lists make us feel better. They take the uncertainty and messiness of life and spray it with a sense of purpose. On low days, I sometimes write to-do lists of tasks I have already done and put ticks next to them, just to give myself the illusion of resolve. We cross days off a calendar, and imagine that July was something we positively achieved, rather than an unstoppable wave of time that scooped us up and spat us out into the next month. We portion our lives into guest lists and blacklists, lists of friends and followers. We make shopping lists and bucket lists and reading lists; wishlists of DVDs we may one day watch or seeds we hope to plant and catalogues of countries we have visited or books we have read. To go to a shop armed with a scrap of paper that says ‘eggs, milk, pears’ is to believe that you have a script and are the one in charge, even if you end up getting apples instead because the pears look bad.

(LRB 14 July 2016)

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